Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Klaiman - May 4, 1982

Remembering the Other Jews in Camp

What do you remember about the barracks? Do you have a recollection of the people? Do you know the--do you remember the faces? You remember the people, you remember the sec... I mean everybody...

[interruption in interview]

...differently under the pressure, under the psychological--under the physical pain. Do you remember the people you slept with? Do you remember?

I remember no--off hand I was working all the time and uh, you could see all the time. He, he, he looked at me and I looked at him and he said, "Joe, you changed a lot, you know, you're not the same.' And I said, "You, uh...' I didn't want to make him feel bad. I saw that he, he's going on and I didn't feel a need because I--he was about two or three years older than I am. He said, "You're getting awful skinny,' something like that and I said, "I'm feeling good.' I was still fighting. And he was fighting too. You could see every day this, you can see in the, in the people of the die like, like a Muselmann, you know how they say, you could see all the time

The bones.

Bones and bones and bones. And I saw it in--and, and in Buchenwald I saw the same thing and, and then you get, like you say, you get used to this kind of life, that uh, the men died. You know 'em for, for two months or something. It's a normal thing in life.

Didn't have an effect.

Oh it had an effect. An effect I'm never going to forget in my life there.

No, but in the moment...

In the moment I cry--the moment I knew that it's going to happen to me the same thing. Human being...

[interruption in interview]

...people cannot understand what hunger can do to human people. You become a--you can become a murderer. Mothers could kill children for hunger, that's what I believe. That hunger can bring people to be worse than animal. That they'll uh, sometimes you get so that you, you don't know what you're doing.

Do you remember Jews fighting with other Jews in the barrack, over?

Oh yeah. Stealing. They were stealing, some people were strong enough. They give you a piece of bread in the morning, you was hide it. And then if another guy was uh, was knew that he didn't eat this piece of bread, he was taking to eat a little later, he was just going--they hit him to take away the piece of bread. And there was a whole fight and then before you took he was dead because he was not strong enough. It was a lot of fighting. They were stealing one another. It was very bad. And for this I cannot blame nobody because it's hunger. It's something what he didn't want to do. And, uh...

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